Feature

When a state can’t commit to a capital.

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India

Editorial
Kashmir Observer

Two state capitals are one too many, said the Kashmir Observer in an editorial. For more than a hundred years, the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir—which encompasses the Indian part of divided Kashmir—has shuttled its provincial government back and forth between two cities. The capital is officially located in Srinigar in the summer and Jammu in the winter. Credit for this bright idea goes to a 19th-century maharajah who liked to summer in the cool mountains but couldn’t handle the snowy winters. So even today, files and papers and computers have to be boxed up and shipped from one office to the other, at great expense, twice a year. The massive move requires intense preparation, of course, so the government effectively “goes into a coma for about a month” before each move. That’s a lot of wasted time and money. Defenders say that having two capitals placates both the Muslim-dominated area around Srinigar and the mostly Hindu region around Jammu. Citizens in both areas are supposed to feel that the government is accessible to them. Only it’s not working. The Hindus are getting more militant with each passing year, while the Muslims feel a kinship with their brethren over in Pakistan. Any “emotional integration” between the two “is just a farce.” Can’t we end this “patently primitive tradition”?

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